Roka Lebea get land title deeds

Monday, May 21, 2018

By Jauhara Khan

The Roka Lebea people are rejoicing after finally being handed the title deeds to the place they have called home for over two centuries.

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, handed the title deed to Roka Lebea leaders at the Seroka Primary School in Limpopo on Friday, 18 May 2018.

The Roka Lebea are from Ga-Seroka village, which is near Jane Furse in the Sekhukhune district municipality in Limpopo.

Their land claim was processed almost 20 years after it was lodged.

The traditional leader of the Roka Lebea, Kgoshigadi Seroka Tlakale Monica, had lodged a land claim on behalf of the Roka Lebea on 23 November 1998 with the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights. The Roka Lebea wished to acquire the formal rights to the Dingaankop 543 KS farm, which occupies 1035.5872 hectares (about 10 square kilometres). They have lived on this land from about 1800 to the present day.

The Roka Lebea were never physically removed from their home, but they have had informal unregistered rights to the land due to Section 11 of the Native Trust and Land Act of 1936, which prohibited the ownership in title or purchase of land by “natives”.

The claim has been processed under Section 3 of the Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994.

One of the beneficiaries of the land claim, Maditau Makgwale, shared his excitement with Vuk’uzenzele.

“I am happy and proud that we have the land of our own, and we will be able to make a living out of it. We are planning to start agricultural projects and mining on the land, and we will continue to work together with government so that we will be able to create jobs for our people and for our children to afford educational opportunities.”

He said they would focus on crop production, but some community members also owned livestock, which gave the community a head start in their farming efforts.

“All members of our community are going to benefit from this land, especially the youth. We have about 600 people who will benefit from this title deed. The land is big enough for all of us, it is about 1035 hectares,” he said. 

Makgwale discouraged the act of land grabs, which has been prevalent across the country in recent weeks. He said it was important for citizens to do things according to the law.

“Some of the people take up the land illegally but have no plans for it. It is only right to do things properly so that we can benefit from the land,” he said.

In her budget vote last week, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said the department had already restored 3.5million hectares of land which could change the lives of those still stuck in the second economy.

“To date, the department has settled 80 664 claims benefitting 2,1 million beneficiaries at the cost of R40 billion inclusive of financial compensation to beneficiaries. 163 463 of these are female-headed households. Land without the requisite support fails to unlock the full value chain.”

She said that in the next financial year, the department intended to settle 1 151 land claims at a cost of R2 billion. The department had also set aside R700 million for post-settlement support on farms handed back to the people.  

In 2017, a claim was settled with 1500 people in the Double Drift community in the Eastern Cape. They received 1300 hectares of land which constituted 21 farms now known as the Double Drift Nature Reserve. The Minister said the community will pilot a game farming project on the land. 

*This article first appeared in Vuk'uzenzele.